• discrete element method;
  • sample generation;
  • dense packing;
  • convex polyhedra;
  • tetrahedral mesh;
  • surface concavity


For granular mechanics studies, efficiently creating a realistic consolidated pack is a challenging task. To achieve this, particle shapes are traditionally restricted to simple shapes (disks, ellipses, spheres, ellipsoids) or constructed from a library, loosely populated, and subsequently settled under gravity. These methods suffer from both a lack of physicality in terms of the particle shapes and impractically long sample preparation times. To address these shortcomings, we introduce a method to generate and pack polyhedra within arbitrary boundaries through a tetrahedral element erosion process. This approach yields tightly packed systems of convex hulls for traditional discrete element calculations and internal tetrahedral meshing of the individual bodies for use in finite-discrete element or finite element calculations. To demonstrate the method, we present its application to packing sphere-like and ellipsoid-like particles for simple and complex bounding volumes. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.